What Happens to an Uninsured Motorist in an Accident?

March 2, 2022 in

Florida drivers are required by law to carry auto insurance. When an uninsured driver is involved in an accident and gets caught, they may face various penalties. 

Penalties for Driving Without Insurance in Florida

When drivers get into car accidents without insurance, they will be responsible for their resulting expenses out of pocket, regardless of fault. That includes repairing their vehicle, any medical bills and lost income. Since Florida is a no-fault state, drivers turn to their own auto insurance company to pay for a collision even if another driver was to blame. Depending on the crash’s severity, this can result in significant financial consequences. 

Suppose the other driver suffered severe injuries and the uninsured driver is determined to be at fault for the accident. In that case, the other driver may have the right to hold the uninsured driver personally liable. In other words, the other driver can file a lawsuit to recover compensation that their auto insurance does not provide if their injury qualifies under the state’s “permanent injury threshold.” As a result, the uninsured driver will not only be responsible for their own expenses but may also be required to pay a costly settlement or court award to the victim. 

In addition, a first-time offense for drivers who do not have auto insurance may carry the following penalties: 

  • License suspension until they can provide proof of insurance;
  • A $150 license reinstatement fee; and,
  • License plates suspension.

A second or third offense of failing to have proper insurance can result in higher fees and longer lengths of suspensions on their license and plates. For example, being caught two times without insurance within three years may result in a license and plate suspension of up to three years or until there is proof of coverage and the reinstatement fee increases to $250. Three or more violations require a $500 reinstatement fee. 

Florida’s Minimum Insurance Requirements 

Under Florida’s no-fault and financial responsibility laws, drivers in must carry minimum auto insurance coverage in the following amounts: 

  • $10,000 for personal injury protection (PIP)
  • $10,000 for property damage liability (PDL)

The state does not require bodily injury liability (BIL), but this additional coverage can protect you if you are responsible for an accident that results in a severe injury or fatality. 

When Can an Uninsured Driver Be Sued? 

Many victims choose to sue an uninsured driver when they discover their PIP and uninsured motorist coverage fail to adequately cover their losses. Unfortunately, suing an uninsured driver is often not worth the time and expense. Uninsured drivers typically do not have auto insurance in the first place because they do not have the financial means to purchase or maintain it. If you end up being awarded compensation, the uninsured may not be able to pay at all, or if they have minimal income, a judge may require a payment plan. However, these payments can be very low, making it impossible to cover all of your bills. 

When you are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver, it is always best to consult a West Palm Beach uninsured motorist lawyer. They can help you determine if the uninsured driver has hidden assets or the best course of action for recovering the compensation you are entitled to.